Peter Coyote
Date of Birth
Oct 10, 1942
Birth Place:
Colver, PA


There are several theories as to why Peter Cohon chose the stage name of Peter Coyote; for his part, the actor is reluctant to discuss an event that apparently was the end result of an evening's experimentation with controlled substances. In the late 1960s, Coyote quit his job as a dockworker to "turn on, tune in and drop out." With hair so long that he could sit on it (by his own admission), Coyote was a "fringie" with such varied organizations as the Grateful Dead and the Hell's Angels, and also worked for a while with a guerilla mime group. After years of deprivation, Coyote dropped back into society in 1975, accepting a job as a drama teacher at a public school. Rapidly approaching middle age, Coyote entered films with 1980's Die Laughing. Throughout the 1980s, he alternated between good guys, villains, and a vaguely defined stereotype known as "loser boyfriends." As the vengeful public prosecutor in The Jagged Edge (1985), Coyote turns out not to be the film's principal heavy; even so, we leave the picture disliking his character more than anyone else's. Leading roles came his way in such films as Exposure (1991), but even here he could not completely escape an aura of slime (his ostensibly heroic character burrows through the seamy underside of Rio in search of a prostitute's murderer). One of Coyote's few unconditionally "nice" roles was as the enigmatic scientist Keys in the champion moneymaker E.T. (1982). In the late 1990s, Coyote published Sleeping Where I Fall, a candid memoir of his years as a cultural drop out. In 1992 Roman Polanski tapped him to play the lead in his psycho-sexual black comedy Bitter Moon, and he continued to work steadily in a variety of projects after that such as Kika, Buffalo Girls, Patch Adams, and Sphere. With his deep, distinctive voice he became an in demand narrator for documentaries. He had a small but memorable turn in Erin Brokovich, and was cast in Brian De Palma's Femme Fatale. He was in the teen drama A Walk to Remember, and the Polish brothers cast him in their 2003 film Northfork. Although his big-screen appearances began to dwindle, he remained one of the most ubiquitous narrators of non-fiction films of various types. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Provided by Rovi